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Accession negotiationsAccession partnership
AdditionalityAudit authority
BudgetCategories of expenditure
Certifying authorityCo-financing rate
Cohesion FundCohesion Policy
Committee of the RegionsCommunity Strategic Guidelines on Cohesion 2007-13
Control and AuditConvergence Objective
Coordination Committee of the FundsCross-border cooperation
DecommitmentESPON (European Spatial Planning Observation Network)
EU Solidarity FundEconomic and social cohesion
Eligibility of expenditureEmployment
EnlargementEnvironment
Equal opportunitiesEuropean Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)
European Employment Strategy (EES)European Fisheries Fund (EFF)
European Groupings for Territorial Cooperation (EGTC)European Investment Bank
European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI)European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)
European Social Fund (ESF)European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP)
European Territorial Cooperation ObjectiveEvaluation
Financial correctionsFinancial engineering
FraudGlobal Grants
INTERACTINTERREG III
INTERREG IVCInformation and publicity
InnovationInstrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA)
Interregional cooperationJASMINE
JASPERSJEREMIE
JESSICALisbon 'targeting'
Lisbon StrategyManaging authority
MonitoringMonitoring committee
Mountain areasN+2, n+3
NUTSNational Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF)
Northern Ireland Task Force Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland: The Peace Programme
Operational ProgrammeOutermost regions
PartnershipPaying authority
PaymentsPre-accession aid
Pre-accession strategyProgramming
ProportionalityCohesion report
Recovery (of funds)RegioStars awards for innovative projects
Regional Competitiveness and Employment ObjectiveRegions for Economic Change
RegulationsRural Development
Shared managementState aid
Structural FundsSubsidiarity
Sustainable developmentTechnical assistance
Territorial CohesionTrans-European Networks (TENs)
Transnational cooperationTransport
URBACT - Urban Development network programmeUrban development
Accession negotiations

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Accession partnership

An accession partnership is an agreement between the Council of Ministers of the European Union and a candidate country. It identifies key priority areas in which progress must be made in order for the candidate country to adapt to EU legislation. It also coordinates the aid provided by the European Union to that country. Financial assistance is conditional upon the candidate country making sufficient progress in the identified priority areas. More

Additionality

Additionality is one of the principles driving the workings of the Structural Funds. This principle stipulates that contributions from the Structural Funds must not replace public or equivalent structural expenditure by a Member State in the regions concerned by this principle. In other words, the financial allocations from the Structural Funds may not result in a reduction of national structural expenditure in those regions. The principle of additionality is verified for the regions covered by the Convergence Objective. More

Audit authority

The audit authority is a national, regional or local public authority or body designated for each Operational Programme and responsible for verifying the effective functioning of the management and control system; it also monitors project compliance with national and European regulations. More

Budget

EU Member States contribute to a common EU budget in order to achieve common objectives.

Member States directly contribute on the basis of their gross national income (GNI). Customs duties and VAT receipts provide additional revenue. The budget ceiling is currently set at 1.24% of EU GNI. More

Categories of expenditure

Categories of expenditure help to measure the contribution that programmes and projects co-financed by the EU's Structural and Cohesion Funds make towards creating growth and jobs.

The EU's Integrated Guidelines on Growth and Jobs provide the basis for a list of categories in Council Regulation 1083/2006, which lays down general funding provisions. As a result, all Operational Programmes co-financed under the Funds must categorise their expenditure according to these headings. Categories range from 'R&TD activity in research centres' through to 'Support for self-employment and business start-ups'. More

Certifying authority

A certifying authority is responsible for guaranteeing the accuracy and probity of statements of expenditure and requests for payments before they are sent to the European Commission. Management of the European Regional Development Fund, European Social Fund and Cohesion Fund is shared with member countries, regions and other intermediary bodies. A certifying authority is nominated by one or more of the aforementioned groups for each Operational Programme co-financed by these Funds. More

Co-financing rate

The term 'co-financing rate' refers to the contribution EU funding makes to a programme. Co-financing is usually subject to a maximum threshold, which is defined as a percentage of the total value of the programme, or part thereof. In the specific context of the Structural and Cohesion Funds 2007-13, Annex III of Regulation 1083/2006 lays down the ceilings applicable to co-financing rates. More

Cohesion Fund

Since 1994, the Cohesion Fund has been used to provide support for the poorer regions of Europe and stabilise their economies with a view to promoting growth, employment and sustainable development. The Fund contributes to financing environmental measures and trans-European transport networks - particularly high-priority projects of European interest - in the 12 Member States that have joined the EU since 2004, as well as in Spain, Greece and Portugal. The Cohesion Fund may also be used to finance the priorities of the EU's environmental protection policy. More

Cohesion Policy

Cohesion Policy is the European Union's strategy to promote and support the "overall harmonious development" of its Member States and regions.

Enshrined in the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (Art. 174), the EU's Cohesion Policy aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion by reducing disparities in the level of development between regions. The policy focuses on key areas which will help the EU face up to the challenges of the 21st century and remain globally competitive. More

Committee of the Regions

The Committee of the Regions is a consultative body that allows local and regional authorities to take part in EU legislative work.

Its 344 members usually comprise elected local or regional politicians, leaders of regional governments, or the mayors of cities. They are nominated for five years by the Council on the basis of a proposal made by each country, in numbers that reflect national populations. The Committee's president and bureau are appointed by the members and serve a two and a half year term of office. More

Community Strategic Guidelines on Cohesion 2007-13

These Guidelines are an important part of the new Cohesion Policy as they strengthen its strategic dimension. They were prepared by the European Commission and adopted by the Council of the European Union (i.e. all the Member States). The Guidelines define the programming priorities at the European level for a seven-year period. Each Member State then presents a 'National Strategic Reference Framework' in line with the Guidelines. The Guidelines contribute towards achieving results in other EU priorities, e.g. those stemming from the Lisbon Strategy and the Integrated Guidelines for growth and jobs. Examples of the areas covered are investment, jobs, knowledge and innovation. More

Control and Audit

The term 'Control and Audit' refers to the sound financial management of the Structural and Cohesion Funds. Management and delivery of the programmes is largely devolved to administrations at national and sub-national levels. Member States must assure the Commission that the Funds are being spent effectively and in accordance with the Regulations. They must provide reliable accounting, monitoring and financial reporting systems and identify the responsible bodies and procedures to ensure an adequate audit trail. More

Convergence Objective

This is one of the three priority objectives of the EU's Cohesion Policy for 2007-13. It closely mirrors former 'Objective 1' funding. The Convergence Objective aims to help the least developed Member States and regions that are lagging behind to close the gap more quickly in relation to the EU average by improving conditions for growth and employment. More

Coordination Committee of the Funds

The Coordination Committee of the Funds (COCOF) is a standing committee of the European Commission. Its function is to discuss issues relating to the implementation of the regulations governing the Structural and Cohesion Funds. The Committee usually meets on a monthly basis and is chaired by the European Commission. Officials from the Member States also attend. More

Cross-border cooperation

The 52 cross-border cooperation programmes are part of the European Territorial Cooperation objective under the Cohesion Policy for 2007-13.

Cross-border cooperation between adjoining regions aims to develop cross-border social and economic activities through joint development strategies. More

Decommitment

Under the automatic decommitment principle, if a sum committed to a programme has not been claimed by the end of the second year following the programme's adoption, any unpaid money ceases to be available to that programme. This mechanism was introduced in 1999 for programmes over the period 2000-06 so as to improve both their speed of development and the monitoring of flows of programme funding. More

ESPON (European Spatial Planning Observation Network)

ESPON is an applied research programme aimed at supporting the formulation of territorial development policies in Europe. To this end, the programme produces wide-ranging and systematic data on territorial trends related to various economic, social and environmental aspects, with a view to identifying the potential of regions, cities and larger territories and the economic challenges they face. More

EU Solidarity Fund

The European Union Solidarity Fund (EUSF), established in 2002, is designed to allow a rapid, efficient and flexible response to urgent situations following major natural disasters. It intervenes mainly in natural disasters which have serious repercussions on living conditions, the natural environment or the economy in one or more regions of a Member State or a candidate country which has already begun accession negotiations. More

Economic and social cohesion

As an expression of solidarity between the EU Member States and their regions, economic and social cohesion aims to achieve balanced socio-economic development throughout the EU.

Economic and social cohesion is implemented through the Regional Policy of the EU, which was incorporated into the EC Treaty by the Maastricht Treaty of 1992. Regional Policy reduces structural disparities between regions and Member States through a variety of operations that are financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Cohesion Fund. More

Eligibility of expenditure

The criteria for eligibility of expenditure determine whether a cost qualifies for funding under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Social Fund (ESF) or Cohesion Fund.

Three EC Regulations (1080/2006, 1083/2006 and 1828/2006) establish the main principles on the eligibility of expenditure at European level to ensure consistency between the rules implemented in the Member States. Detailed criteria are laid down at national level. More

Employment

The EU is committed to helping Europe remain at the forefront of the global economy and seeks to play its part in creating the right conditions to generate employment and growth. In 2000 the EU revamped its economic agenda by developing the Lisbon Strategy. This strategy was re-launched in 2005 with a tighter focus on generating growth and jobs. More

Enlargement

Since the accession of Bulgaria and Romania on 1 January 2007, the European Union has comprised 27 Member States. Enlargement refers to the waves of new members joining the EU. Twenty-one countries have so far joined the six founding members of the European Communities (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands): More

Environment

The European Union's environment policy aims to preserve, protect and improve the environment for present and future generations, and to promote the principles of sustainable development.

The policy's main priorities are to: combat climate change; protect biodiversity; reduce pollution and its impact on human health; advocate the prudent and rational use of natural resources. More

Equal opportunities

Equality between men and women is a cornerstone of EU law and policy-making.

The EU is committed to developing measures to ensure equal opportunities and equality of treatment for people regardless of gender. This ethos applies in all areas of economic, social, cultural and family life. The EU is also pursuing gender mainstreaming in order to reinforce equality rights and combat gender discrimination. More

European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)

The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) supports European policy on rural development. To this end, it finances rural development programmes across the Member States and the regions of the Union. Programmes are designed in cooperation between the European Commission and the Member States, taking into account the strategic guidelines for rural development policy adopted by the Council and the priorities laid down by national strategy plans. More

European Employment Strategy (EES)

The European Employment Strategy (EES) helps European Union countries to create more and better jobs. Objectives, priorities and targets are agreed at EU level. Governments then coordinate their efforts to promote employment. More

European Fisheries Fund (EFF)

With a total budget of around €3.8 (2006 prices) billion for the 2007-13 programming period, the European Fisheries Fund (EFF) supports the European fishing and aquaculture sector, fisheries areas and inland fishing. To this end, it finances the Operating Programmes drawn up by the Member States in consultation with local and regional economic and social partners involved in the fisheries sector. More

European Groupings for Territorial Cooperation (EGTC)

European Groupings for Territorial Cooperation aim to facilitate and promote cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation in the EU. Their tasks include the implementation of programmes that are being co-financed by the EU or any other European cross-border cooperation project. More

European Investment Bank

Founded in 1958, the European Investment Bank (EIB) is the long-term lending bank of the European Union. The EIB is active throughout the EU as well as in some 140 countries worldwide which have cooperation agreements with the EU. The bank collaborates closely with the EU institutions to help achieve key EU objectives. More

European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI)

European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) is aimed at supporting political, economic and social reform processes in the following neighbouring countries of the European Union: Algeria, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, the Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia, and Ukraine. ENP aims to strengthen prosperity, stability, security, the market economy and sustainable growth through a continuous dialogue with each partner country. More

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

The ERDF was set up in 1975 and provides financial support for the development and structural adjustment of regional economies, economic change, enhanced competitiveness as well as territorial cooperation throughout the EU. Along with the European Social Fund (ESF), the ERDF is one of the two Structural Funds of the EU. More

European Social Fund (ESF)

Established in 1958, the ESF is one of the EU's main financial instruments for supporting national policies that seek to increase employment and employment opportunities, improve quality and productivity at work, and reduce social exclusion and regional employment disparities. More

European Spatial Development Perspective (ESDP)

The original concept behind the ESDP dates back to the 1960s. Following intensive discussions, it was officially adopted in May 1999 by the ministers with responsibility for regional planning in the 15 Member States. The ESDP is a framework for policy guidance designed to improve cooperation in EU sectoral policies which have a significant impact on spatial and territorial development. It also aims to improve the coordination of national policies in this field. The ESDP is based on three key principles: developing a balanced and polycentric urban system and a renewed relationship between cities and the countryside; ensuring equal access to knowledge infrastructures; and sustainable development, intelligent management and conservation of nature and cultural assets. More

European Territorial Cooperation Objective

This objective is aimed at strengthening cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation based on the old INTERREG initiative and financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Cooperation is based around research, development, the information society, the environment, risk prevention, and integrated water management. Eligible regions are those at NUTS III level which are situated along EU internal land borders, external land borders and certain regions situated along maritime borders separated by a maximum of 150 km. More

Evaluation

Three types of evaluation have been identified for the 2007-13 programming period: before (ex ante), during (ongoing), and after (ex post). Cohesion Policy is evaluated on a partnership basis. Member States are responsible for ex ante evaluation while the European Commission carries out ex post evaluation. More

Financial corrections

Financial corrections are withdrawals of funding that take place when payments to EU-backed projects have been made in error due to irregularities such as fraud.

The Commission is committed to recovering funds that have been obtained or used fraudulently, and will use the full force of the law to track down such payments. Deployment of financial corrections could include cancelling all or part of an EU contribution to an Operational Programme. More

Financial engineering

In order to make the EU's Cohesion Policy for 2007-13 more efficient and sustainable, and also to help support the Lisbon process, assorted new technical assistance and financial engineering initiatives have been developed since 2006. These are joint instruments supported by the European Commission and a number of partner institutions, among them the EIB, EIF, EBRD, CEB and KfW. These instruments include: JASPERS - 'Joint Assistance in Supporting Projects in European Regions' - to support the preparation of large projects; JEREMIE - 'Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises' - to improve access to credit for SMEs and business; JESSICA - 'Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas' - to provide sustainable funding for urban development; JASMINE - 'Joint Action to Support Micro-credit Institutions In Europe' - to provide technical assistance support to improve access to micro-credit. More

Fraud

As well as being part of general efforts to combat organised crime, the fight against fraud and corruption also involves countering illegal activities adversely affecting the financial interests of the European Union (EU). It rests on two legal bases: More

Global Grants

Global Grants help small, non-governmental organisations, such as voluntary groups and community organisations, to obtain support from the European Social Fund (ESF) and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). More

INTERACT

INTERACT 2007-13 offers assistance to stakeholders who are implementing EU-funded programmes under the Cohesion Policy's European Territorial Cooperation Objective.

INTERACT provides advice on management and implementation, supports the organisation of thematic seminars and disseminates examples of good practice. The programme has a total budget of €40 million, of which €34 million comes from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). More

INTERREG III

The INTERREG III initiative was an integral part of the European Union's (EU) Regional Policy 2000-06.

INTERREG III set out to improve economic and social cohesion by supporting cross-border, transnational and interregional cooperation. The goal was to promote balanced development across the EU. More

INTERREG IVC

The INTERREG IVC interregional cooperation programme covers all EU Member States, plus Norway and Switzerland, under the European Territorial Cooperation Objective co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Approved for the period 2007-13, its main goal is to improve regional development policies through exchanges of experiences and good practice. It also aims to capitalise on regional know-how and good practices already identified at the European level. More

Information and publicity

The European Commission and the EU Member States must keep the public informed about Cohesion Policy and the funded projects which it supports. With billions of euro being spent through the Structural Funds, it is vital that local communities receive clear details of how they are to benefit and how EU taxpayers' money is being spent. More

Innovation

Innovation, whether it relates to the development of new products, processes or organisational techniques, can help give economic operators a competitive edge. The European Union is acutely aware of this and places the fostering of innovation at the centre of its Strategy for Growth and Jobs. More

Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA)

The Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA) has been established by the EU to support candidate countries and potential candidate countries.

The IPA covers the period 2007-13 and replaces a number of older EU pre-accession programmes like PHARE, ISPA, SAPARD and CARDS as well as a financial instrument for Turkey. More

Interregional cooperation

Interregional cooperation is aimed at enhancing EU regional development through transfers of know-how and exchanges of experiences between regions.

The Interregional Cooperation Programme INTERREG IVC forms part of the European Territorial Cooperation Objective under the Cohesion Policy for 2007-13. The programme aims to improve the effectiveness of regional development policies and contribute to economic modernisation and increased competitiveness in Europe. More

JASMINE

JASMINE stands for 'Joint Action to Support Microfinance Institutions in Europe'. It is one of the four new financial engineering initiatives introduced under the EU Cohesion Policy for 2007-13. With a total budget of €50 million, JASMINE is a pilot initiative which has been jointly developed by the European Commission (EC), the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the European Investment Fund (EIF). More

JASPERS

JASPERS ('Joint Assistance to Support Projects in the European Regions') is a joint instrument supported by the European Commission, the European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (ERDB) and, since July 2008, Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW). It is a technical assistance facility available to the twelve Member States that joined the European Union in 2004 and 2007, in order to assist them with preparing major projects which will be supported by EU funds. JASPERS offers a pool of expertise to help the new Member States make the best use of available funding. Assistance can be made available for the project structuring and preparatory stages up until the point when a decision to grant funding is made. JASPERS has been operational since 2006 and is now close to its full complement of 60 expert staff, most of them based close to the beneficiaries in three regional offices in Warsaw, Vienna and Bucharest. More

JEREMIE

JEREMIE stands for 'Joint European Resources for Micro to Medium Enterprises'. It is a financial instrument that has been established by the European Commission in partnership with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Investment Fund (EIF) to improve access to finance for micro-businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in regions of the EU. More

JESSICA

JESSICA ('Joint European Support for Sustainable Investment in City Areas') is a European Commission initiative that has been developed with the cooperation of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Council of Europe Development Bank (CEB). More

Lisbon 'targeting'

In the 2007-13 programming period, European Cohesion Policy programmes have 'targeted' certain objectives outlined in the EU's Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs. This targeting involves the earmarking of funds for investments that directly strengthen competitiveness and job creation - in research and innovation, skills, business services, major European infrastructures and greater energy efficiency. More

Lisbon Strategy

Set out by the Heads of State and of Government at the Lisbon European Council in March 2000, the Lisbon Strategy is an action and development plan for jobs and economic growth in the EU. Policy measures proposed under the Lisbon Strategy cover a wide range of national and EU policies, aiming to support knowledge and innovation, make Europe a more attractive place to invest and work, and create more and better jobs. More

Managing authority

Under the auspices of the EU's Cohesion Policy for 2007-13, a managing authority is responsible for the efficient management and implementation of an Operational Programme.

A managing authority may be a national ministry, a regional authority, a local council, or another public or private body that has been nominated and approved by a Member State. Managing authorities are expected to conduct their work in line with the principles of sound financial management. More

Monitoring

EU Structural and Cohesion funding must be spent effectively and in accordance with its defined purpose. For this reason, extensive evaluation and monitoring procedures have been established through EU legislation to check that Operational Programmes using Structural and Cohesion funding are performing properly and delivering results that can be checked against agreed criteria. More

Monitoring committee

Member States are required to appoint monitoring committees to check that Operational Programmes (OPs) which use Structural and Cohesion funding are being correctly implemented. These committees are chaired by the relevant Member State (or managing authority) and comprise regional, economic and social partners. More

Mountain areas

A 2004 study for the European Commission showed that the European Union, Norway and Switzerland contain mountain-area municipalities which cover some 1 900 000 km2 (about 40.6 per cent of total land mass). These mountainous areas are inhabited by 94.3 million people (19.1 per cent of the total population of the countries covered by the study). More

N+2, n+3

N+2 and n+3 relate to financing rules for the annual allocation of money from the European Union's Structural and Cohesion Funds.

If the funding in question has not been spent by that date, the Commission can 'decommit' future budget allocations. Automatic decommitments are made if funding is not spent, or requests for payments are not made, by the end of the second year (n+2). This deadline is extended to three years (n+3) for the new Member States plus Greece and Portugal until 2010. More

NUTS

The 'nomenclature of territorial units for statistics' (NUTS) was created by the European Office for Statistics (Eurostat) in order to apply a common statistical standard across the European Union.

NUTS levels are geographical areas used to collect harmonised data in the EU. They have been used in the Structural Funds since 1988 and play an important role in allocating Structural Funds. More

National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF)

For the programming period 2007-13 each Member State has produced a National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF). This is a reference document for programming Structural Funds and Cohesion Fund interventions in a manner consistent with the Strategic Guidelines on Cohesion 2007-13. It defines the strategy chosen by the relevant Member State and presents a list of national and regional Operational Programmes (OPs) which it is seeking to implement, as well as an indicative annual financial allocation for each OP. The NSRF should also be consistent with the Member State's National Reform Programme (NRP) relating to the Lisbon Strategy for growth and jobs. More

Northern Ireland Task Force

An important initiative for Northern Ireland on the part of the Commission has taken the form of the creation of Northern Ireland Task Force (NITF). Its origins lie in the agreement to re-establish power sharing arrangements in Northern Ireland in May 2007 involving the two major political parties. More

Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland: The Peace Programme

The PEACE III Programme (2007-2013) is a distinctive EU structural funds programme. It aims at reinforcing progress towards a peaceful and stable society, and promoting reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland. More

Operational Programme

Member States submit their Operational Programmes within the common framework of the Strategic Guidelines on Cohesion Policy and on the basis of the National Strategic Reference Framework (NSRF). Each Operational Programme relates to one of the three new objectives and sets out a development strategy with a coherent set of priorities to be carried out with the aid of a single fund or, in the case of the Convergence objective, with the aid of the Cohesion Fund and the European Regional Development Fund. More

Outermost regions

Seven regions in the European Union are classified as 'outermost': the four French overseas departments (Guadeloupe, French Guyana, Martinique, Réunion); the Spanish Autonomous Community of the Canary Islands; the Portuguese autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira. More

Partnership

Historically the European Union has developed its regional policy activities and distributed Structural and Cohesion funding through a partnership process, which includes significant input from the Member States. More

Paying authority

Under the new Cohesion Policy for 2007-13, a paying authority is now known as a certifying authority. However, the responsibilities of these bodies remain much as they were during the 2000-06 programming period. More

Payments

When distributing EU Structural and Cohesion funding to Operational Programmes running between 2007 and 2013, the Commission can make three types of payments:

More

The PEACE programme for Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland

The PEACE III Programme (2007-2013) is a distinctive EU structural funds programme. It aims at reinforcing progress towards a peaceful and stable society, and promoting reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the Border Region of Ireland. More

Pre-accession aid

The European Union provides pre-accession aid to countries that are applying to join the EU. This assistance helps candidate countries to meet the EU's accession conditions, which include bringing their institutions and standards into line with the Community acquis: the body of common rights and obligations which binds all Member States to the EU. More

Pre-accession strategy

A pre-accession strategy establishes a framework for candidate countries to follow as they bid to become members of the European Union. A strategy lays down the procedures and priorities that all candidates must attend to as they undertake 'structured dialogue' with the EU institutions. More

Programming

Programming refers to the administrative mechanism used to pursue the objectives of the Structural and Cohesion Funds. Multi-annual programmes - known as Operational Programmes - ensure consistency and continuity over a seven-year period. Programmes relate to specific geographical areas at national or sub-national level, depending on the governance arrangements in place. Programme aims include identifying strategic priorities and indicative actions, outlining financial allocations, and summarising management and control systems. The current programming period runs from 2007 until 2013. More

Proportionality

Proportionality regulates how the European Union exercises its powers. It works in much the same way as the principle of subsidiarity. The proportionality principle means that, to achieve its aims, the EU will only take the action it needs to and no more. The principle is enshrined in the Community Treaty under Article 5, which states: "The Community shall act within the limits of the powers conferred upon it by this Treaty and of the objectives assigned to it therein." More

Cohesion report

A cohesion report is produced by the European Commission every three years to report on progress towards achieving economic and social cohesion across the European Union. Enshrined in Article 175 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (consolidated version 2008), the report must be submitted to the European Parliament, Council of Ministers, Economic and Social Committee and Committee of the Regions. More

Recovery (of funds)

There are three circumstances in which the European Commission has to ask relevant Member States for a reimbursement (recovery) of structural funding.

Firstly, recovery is due when not all the financial contributions to the relevant Member State have been necessary. The EU's financial rules would require recovery of these amounts of money. More

RegioStars awards for innovative projects

'RegioStars' forms part of the Commission's 'Regions for Economic Change' initiative, which seeks to promote the exchange of experiences and good practices between Europe's regions as a way of boosting innovation. More

Regional Competitiveness and Employment Objective

This is one of the three priority objectives under European Cohesion Policy for 2007-13. It aims to strengthen the competitiveness and attractiveness of, and employment in, regions not included in the Convergence Objective (which covers the most disadvantaged regions). It is designed to help pre-empt economic and social changes, promote innovation, entrepreneurship, environmental protection, accessibility, adaptability, and the development of inclusive labour markets. It will be financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF). More

Regions for Economic Change

'Regions for Economic Change' is an initiative that complements the Cohesion Policy's Territorial Cooperation Objective 2007-13. Its goal is to promote the exchange of good practices between Europe's regions as a way of boosting innovative activity. The initiative will help Regional Policy to support the EU's strategic goals of boosting growth and jobs across Europe. More

Regulations

Regulations are the strongest form of EU legislation. They are of general application, binding in their entirety and directly enforceable in all Member States. Legislation relating to EU Cohesion Policy usually takes the form of regulations. More

Rural Development

The EU's policy on Rural Development helps rural areas respond to the challenges they face, and is part of a horizontal policy approach to creating growth and jobs in Europe. Strategic EU Guidelines provide an overall policy framework, and general rules are laid down in Council Regulation 1698/2005 on support for rural development by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The Regulation identifies three priority areas or 'axes': More

Shared management

There are two main types of EU funding: funds which are managed centrally and directly by the European Commission, e.g. for research; and funds whose management is shared between the EU and the Member States, e.g. the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund. The EU entrusts management of the latter to the Member States. The bulk of EU spending involves funds which come under shared management by the EU Member States. More

State aid

European Union rules on state aid were put in place to ensure that state-owned resources are not deployed to distort competition or create unfair advantage in the European single market.

State aid is an advantage given by a government that may provide a company with an unfair competitive edge over its commercial rivals. Such state aid can be delivered in a variety of ways, such as through the allocation of grant subsidies, the provision of interest and tax relief, or the purchasing of goods and services on preferential terms. More

Structural Funds

For the period 2007-13, Regional Policy is financed by the Structural Funds and the Cohesion Fund.

The Structural Funds have two components: the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), providing financial support since 1975 for the development and structural adjustment of regional economies, economic change, enhanced competitiveness as well as territorial cooperation throughout the EU; and the European Social Fund (ESF), set up in 1958 and seeking to contribute to the adaptability of workers and enterprises, access to employment and participation in the labour market, social inclusion of disadvantaged people, combating all forms of discrimination, and creating partnerships to manage reforms in employment. More

Subsidiarity

The subsidiarity principle aims to ensure that decisions are taken as closely as possible to the citizen. Except in cases where the EU has exclusive competence, action at European level should not be taken unless it is more effective than action taken at national, regional or local level. Susbsidiarity is closely bound up with the principles of proportionality and necessity, meaning that any action by the Union should not go beyond what is necessary to achieve the objectives of the Treaty. More

Sustainable development

The concept of sustainable development refers to a form of development policy which seeks to satisfy society's economic, social and environmental needs in terms of well-being in the short, medium and - above all - long term. It is founded on the assumption that development must meet today's needs without jeopardising the welfare of future generations. In practical terms, this means creating the conditions for long-term economic development whilst ensuring due respect for the environment. More

Technical assistance

Technical assistance is available to help stakeholders implement Commission-funded programmes and projects. Under the European Union's Cohesion Policy such financial support can be used to pay for preparation, management, evaluation, monitoring, audit and control. More

Territorial Cohesion

Strengthening economic and social cohesion by reducing disparities between regions in the EU is a clear objective of the EU. The Treaty of Lisbon, signed in 2007 and currently in the process of ratification, introduces a third dimension: Territorial Cohesion. More

Trans-European Networks (TENs)

Trans-European Networks consist of cross-border transport, energy and telecommunications infrastructures and are referred to in Articles 170, 171 and 172 of the Consolidated version 2008 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Their purpose is to support and enhance the functioning of the European single market by facilitating the free movement of goods, people and services. Actions under the TENs must promote the interoperability of national networks and facilitate access to them. More

Transnational cooperation

Transnational cooperation encourages highly integrated partnerships impacting beyond national boundaries in a transnational cooperation area. Such partnerships span and represent different levels of government and administration, embracing both public and private-sector bodies and different policy areas. More

Transport

The EU has created a legal framework in the transport sector aimed at facilitating the free movement of persons and goods across the Union. According to the EC Treaty, the measures put in place within this framework include: More

URBACT - Urban Development network programme

The URBACT II network is financed by the Commission under its Territorial Cooperation Objective and will run from 2007 to 2013. The aim of the network is to stimulate innovation in urban regeneration by encouraging towns and cities to identify, transfer and disseminate good practice. More

Urban development

Urban development aims to promote sustainable investment, growth and jobs in Europe's urban areas. During 2007-13 the former URBAN programme will no longer exist as a separate initiative and will be integrated into the regional programmes. The new Cohesion Policy regulations provide instruments for strengthening the urban dimension within the new generation of programmes. These instruments highlight the need to involve local and regional authorities in their planning and implementation. The Community Strategic Guidelines on Cohesion outline major types of action specific to urban areas which can benefit from EU regional funds. More

EU Regional Policy: Stay informed